The Christmas Star & Apollo

Filed Under Science & Astronomy on December 17, 2008 | 2 Comments

It’s become sort of a tradition that each year I give the Christmas lecture for Astro2 (The Astronomy & Physics Society of NUI Maynooth). Each year I give a talk on the Christmas Star and each year I change it up a bit and focus more on different aspects. I really changed the talk up quite a bit this year and got quite a bit deeper in the biblical end of things than I had before. I enjoyed giving the talk this evening, and the audience seemed to enjoy it too which is always nice!

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I’m absolutely delighted to be able to say that a local amateur Astronomer and friend of mine, Dave McDonald, has discovered an Asteroid. This is not just a big deal for him, it’s a big deal for Ireland. This is only the second ever asteroid discovered here, and the first since 18 something (about 160 years ago). Dave is one of the leading lights in the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies and was rightly voted Astronomer of the Year last year by the IFAS members. Guess he’s a shoe-in for this year too 😉

Dave is the perfect example of an amateur astronomer doing real science. His setup is in many ways quite modest, but he has it tuned to perfection and has really nailed it’s operation. Dave is getting more out of his gear than anyone else I know. The asteroid he discovered was an insanely dim magnitude 19. This is also not Dave’s first success, last year he made the official confirmation observation of a supernova. I don’t know of any other sciences where amateurs can contribute so much real scientific work in this day and age.

You can find out more about Dave at his website,

If you’re reading this Dave, I offer my heart-felt congratulations, I knew all your hard work and dedication would eventually pay off and you’d strike gold one of these days!

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iPhone Comes to Ireland in March

Filed Under Computers & Tech on February 28, 2008 | 8 Comments

Well, it’s official, Ireland is getting the iPhone on the 14th of March 2008 exclusively from O2. You can get all the details on this page on the O2 site. That pretty much settles it, my next cellphone will be an iPhone. However, I’m not going to be rushing to buy one on the 14th. I have a perfectly functional cellphone and until that changes I won’t be getting and iPhone. Mind you, if I was less broke I might be more inclined to go out and grab one sooner.

The prices are as I’d expected. The Dollar prices with a Euro sign instead, in other words, standard Apple prices. I’m not impressed by the available contracts though. The lack of an unlimited data plan really stands out as a shortcoming in my book. Mind you, our cell networks are rather poor once you leave the confines of Dublin city so it will probably be a non-issue for quite some time to come. One nice thing is that it’s ‘only’ an 18 month contract, longer than the average here, but shorter than the two years in America.

[tags]iPhone, Ireland, O2[/tags]

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Well, I had predicted that Apple would try get Leopard out by WWDC. In a statement today Apple did say that was their plan, but it hasn’t worked out. Apple blame the iPhone saying they have had to borrow developers from the OS X team to get the iPhone ready for June. I guess the good news is that the iPhone is on target for its June release date, but the cost of this is that Leopard will not be out till October. The only silver lining I can see is that Apple say OS X 10.5 will be ‘feature complete’ by WWDC and that developers will be getting a beta version at WWDC. This means that although we won’t get our hands on Leopard in June, we should at least get to see the final feature set. Putting my prediction hat on I expect we’ll see an extended Leopard demo during Jobs’ keynote at WWDC in June.

[tags]iPhone, OS X Leopard, OS X 10.5, Apple[/tags]

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There have been rumors around about this for a few weeks now and try as I might the closest to an authoritative source I can get is a post on Blake Ross’ blog (he is a FireFox co-creator). Should this turn out to be true it could have quite an impact on the browser usage on the web, particularly for UK sites. I can only see it as a good thing. I also enjoyed some of the rumors I’ve seen about the reasons for this on the web, the best being that it’s a ploy by Dell to reduce the amount of support they have to give because it will cut down on spy-ware infections and the invasion of those annoying porn pop-ups!

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